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Three Med-ventions, Made by a Master

Based on the post “Three Inventions from Fischell” on the website “Healthcare NBIC

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert


Medical inventor and philanthropist Robert Fischell has been developing healthcare innovations that may change the way future generations deal with three of society’s most serious health problems: heart attacks, migraine headaches and epileptic seizures. This article discusses Fischell’s “disruptive” ideas. --Don Rose


The TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference is an annual event for about a thousand top thinkers from a wide array of fields, who come together each year to share ideas that just might change the world -- or influence the course of humanity's collective direction. At the 2005 TED, award-winning medical inventor and philanthropist Robert Fischell discussed three healthcare innovations he's developing: an implantable early warning system for heart attacks, an electro-magnetic dampener for migraines, and a neurostimulator implant for preventing epileptic seizures. Such innovations would almost certainly be "disruptive" in that, if/when they are introduced, they are likely to transform existing markets and technologies, as well as create new markets.

The inventor's medical innovation history is impressive. Fischell is responsible for the first implantable insulin pump, the rechargeable pacemaker, and highly flexible coronary artery stents. A physicist and engineer who collaborates with three sons -- one cardiologist, one physicist and one MBA -- he's the kind of natural-born inventor who takes pleasure in making things work.

Out of Fischell's many new ideas, his warning system for heart attacks might have the most impact on human lives in the future. The device uses the fact that there are certain signatures (tell tale signs) on an electrocardiogram which occur within a minute after a coronary artery is blocked. A doctor would program the implanted device to (1) trigger an emergency alarm if one of these signs is ever detected, and (2) tell the patient to get medical attention right away.

This implantable heart attack detector holds great promise, but until it is proven in the field and goes into widespread practice, there is Life Alert. While Fischell's detector may be the technology of the future, Life Alert is the technology of today -- a proven system that has been protecting and saving lives for 20 years. Processing over a million emergency calls during the past year alone, Life Alert provides each of its members with a small wearable pendant; in the event of a heart attack, or any emergency, one simple press of the pendant signals Life Alert dispatchers and help is sent immediately, 24/7.

Of course, if Fischell's device is ever widely adopted, heart attack victims won’t even have to push.

The article above is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution- ShareAlike 2.5 License. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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